Check It Out

Box Office Inspirations: War Room

Faith-based films rarely make the news, but War Room, a movie about a family that fights back with prayer, has earned a lot of attention with grosses topping $39 million in just seventeen days. If this inspires you to try a simple how-to or story about prayer, these titles might be what you seek:

The Prayer Box book coverThe Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

Charged with cleaning out her deceased landlord’s old Victorian house after her passing, Tandi Jo Reese has her whole life changed when she discovers Iola’s prayer boxes filled with a lifetime of hopes, wishes, fears, and observations.

War Room book coverWar Room:  Prayer Is A Powerful Weapon by Chris Fabry

When real-estate agent Elizabeth Jordan meets elderly widow Clara Williams, a visit to the elder woman’s prayer room helps Elizabeth realize that her mounting problems at home are surmountable with the help of God.

Yada Yada Prayer Group book coverThe Yada Yada Prayer Group by Neta Jackson

A group of Chicago-area women from diverse backgrounds and life experiences, assigned to a prayer group at a weekend conference, become the best of friends as they support each other through the challenges and crises in their lives.  First of a series.

Help Thanks Wow book coverHelp Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott

Describes the three simple prayers–asking for assistance from a higher power, expressing gratitude, and feeling awe–that help to deal with the hardships of daily life.

Before Amen book coverBefore Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer by Max Lucado

Distilling prayers in the Bible down to one pocket-sized prayer, a best-selling author reminds readers that prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between a Father and child.



New Fiction: College Bucket Lists, First Female Sheriffs, and More!

picture of new releasesAlmost everyday new books arrive at the Library to be processed and then placed on the shelf or in your hands. Take a look at some of the books that have arrived most recently at the Library. Want help getting matched with a book to fit your reading mood? Ask online or at the Fiction/AV/Teen services desk on the second floor.

Newly Arrived Books:

Cover of A Manual for Cleaning WomenA Manual for Cleaning Women
by Lucia Berlin
A blend of humor and melancholy, these short stories show the miracles of the everyday.

Cover of Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight NightsTwo Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights
by Salman Rushdie
A modern fairy tale set in a world of religious dominance where the supernatural shapes a war over control of Fairyland.

Cover of Girl Waits With GunGirl Waits With Gun
by Amy Stewart
An enthralling novel based on the forgotten true story of one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs.












Cover of Bream Gives Me HiccupsBream Gives Me Hiccups
by Jesse Eisenberg
The actor and playwright presents a collection of humorous, moving, and inventive stories that explore the ridiculousness of modern-day life.

Cover of The HuntersThe Hunters
by Tom Young
Colonel Michael Parsons and his friend Sophia Gold fly relief supplies into Somalia despite the threats of an attack.

Cover of The Hanging GirlThe Hanging Girl
by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Carl Mørck is pulled into the tragic cold case of a vivacious seventeen-year-old girl who vanished from school, only to be found dead hanging from a tree.












Newly Arrived Audiobooks:

Cover of All Played OutAll Played Out
by Cora Carmack
In her senior of college Nell makes a “to do” list of all the activities she wants to do before she graduates. Item #1? Hook up with a jock.

Cover of A Pattern of LiesA Pattern of Lies
by Charles Todd
Bess Crawford journeys to the frontlines of war-torn France and risks her life to protect an important witness from a dangerous assailant.

Cover of Make MeMake Me
by Lee Child
Jack Reacher’s remote traveling stop sets him on an unexpected path of mystery and adventure.












Cover of Wind/PinballWind / Pinball
by Haruki Murakami
Powerful, at times surreal, stories of loneliness, obsession, and eroticism, these two novellas bear all the hallmarks of Murakami’s later books.

Cover of Deadly AssetsDeadly Assets
by W.E.B. Griffin
Tensions are high between the Philadelphia police and the Citizens Oversight Committee, and they only get even higher after the committee’s leader is found dead.

Cover of The Lure of the MoonflowerThe Lure of the Moonflower
by Lauren Willig
To stop the French from getting their hands on Queen Maria, who was spirited away by a group of loyalists, Jane Wooliston must team up with a rogue agent who is brilliant–and insubordinate.

Staff Pick: Becoming Abigail by Chris Abani

Cover of Becoming AbigailJenny of Fiction/AV/Teen Services suggests Becoming Abigail by Chris Abani

A painful story of identity, Chris Abani uses vivid descriptions and striking turns of phrases to share the emotionally horrific story of a young Nigerian girl named Abigail. Her mother and namesake died during her birth and Abigail’s father has turned into a lonely, angry, and depressed drunk. Abani’s writing borders into poetry, allowing for ambiguity and distance to help digest the horrors Abigail is put through. The novella switches from the past to the present, covering Abigail’s forced relocation to London and her struggle to fight for herself. Excruciatingly honest, Becoming Abigail is for the reader looking to sink into a beautiful yet haunting story of a heart that seems so broken, it’s unfixable.

For more lyrical yet understated books, try….

Cover of What You See in the DarkWhat You See in the Dark by Manuel Muñoz

Set in 1950s Bakersfield, California, Muñoz pieces together the story of two young beautiful locals falling in love, the filming of what would become a famous horror movie, and a murder in this atmospheric story of longing.



Cover of Blue Eyes, Black HairBlue Eyes, Black Hair by Marguerite Duras

Infatuated with a guy he has only glimpsed, a man locks himself away in a room with a woman to talk about their obsessions of love in this intensely charged story of desire.



Cover of Everything Good Will Come

Everything Good Will Come by Sefi Atta

An educated woman with big dreams, Enitan shares the trials of growing up in military-ruled Nigeria after the Biafran war.




Cover of Half of a Yellow SunHalf of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Centered around the Biafran War, the lives of three different people are explored: thirteen-year-old Ugwu who is the houseboy for a university professor, Olanna, the young mistress of the professor, and Richard, an Englishman in love with Olanna’s twin sister.



Cover of The TranslatorThe Translator by Leila Aboulela

Sammar, a widowed Muslim, falls for a faithless Middle-Eastern scholar and must grapple with the cultural differences and grief that comes with falling in love.

Book Discussion Questions: Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Cover of Little BeeTitle: Little Bee
Author: Chris Cleave
Page Count: 271 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction
Tone: Character-Driven, Moving

Little Bee, a young Nigerian refugee, and Sarah, a posh young mother, face a disturbing past and an uncertain future with the help of Sarah’s four-year-old son, Charlie, who refuses to take off his Batman costume. A sense of humor and an unflinching moral compass allow each woman, and the reader, to believe that even in the face of unspeakable odds, humanity can prevail.

These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

  1. 1. Did you know much about the story before you began? Would it have changed your experience of the story if you had known more detail?

2. How did it affect your reading experience to have two narrators? Did you trust one woman more than the other? Did you prefer the voice of one above the other?

3. How did you respond to the non-linear storyline?

4. Cleave has said that the four questions he asks of his characters are: What was the best day of your life? What was the worst day of your life? What do you hope for? And what are you afraid of? – he believes if you think about these, the author can understand the character as an individual and not just as an exemplar of a category of people. Do you see evidence of this in Bee? Sarah? Others?

5. In Britain, Little Bee was published under the title The Other Hand. Which do you think is a better title for the book? What aspects of the novel does each title highlight?

6. Do you think American readers might approach the book differently from British readers? What might be lost on them? What about the story is universal?

7. Cleave intentionally focuses his books on current events and the ethical dilemmas of today. This approach has gotten him both good and bad press. What debates might be started from Little Bee? Are these questions easily answered?

8. Sarah comments early in the book (p.22) that “death, of course, is a refuge.” How is this illustrated in the story?

9. Why do you think Andrew refused to cut off his finger but Sarah was able to? Do you blame Andrew?

10. Do you think Bee is as culpable in Andrew’s death as he was in her sister’s?

11. Does Sarah’s discovery of Andrew’s research and possible book redeem him at all in your eyes?

12. Whom did you like better, Andrew or Lawrence?

13. In an interview, Cleave explains that Charlie is in the book for two reasons:

First, because he is funny and lovable – he gives the novel an emotional center; a reason for the adult protagonists to not simply walk away from the situation and disperse. Second, Charlie is a study in the early formation of identity. Little Bee is a novel about where our individuality lies – which layers of identity are us, and which are mere camouflage. So it’s a deliberate choice to use the metaphor of a child who is engaging in his first experiments with identity – in Charlie’s case by taking on the persona of a superhero.

 What did Charlie’s presence mean to you?

14. Language is an important theme in Little Bee.

  • -Where do we see examples of this? Why?
  • -How does Bee’s grasp of language compare with Charlie’s? How does the way each of these two characters handle the English language help to characterize them?
  • -What about the author’s language, i.e., his writing and choices of phrase

15. What does Udo changing her name to Little Bee symbolize for you? How does her new name offer her protection? Do you think the name suits her? What about “London Sunshine”? When is her real name revealed? What significance is there?

16. Why do you think Little Bee feels hope at the end of the novel despite her dire circumstances? Is the ending meant to be tragic or hopeful?

17. Little Bee says of horror films, “Horror in your country is something you take a dose of to remind yourself that you are not suffering from it” (p. 45). Do you agree? Was reading this novel in any way a dose of horror for you?

Want help with your book discussion group? Check out tips, advice, and all the ways the Library can help support your group!

Other Resources:

NPR news story on oil spill in Nigeria
Interview with author, Chris Cleave
Reading Group Toolbox
People to People International Discussion Questions
Lit Lovers Reading Guide
Video Interview with Chris Cleave

Cover of The Kite Runner Cover of Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away Cover of The Education of a British-Protected Child

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away by Christie Watson
The Education of a British-Protected Child by Chinua Achebe


Staff Pick- Illinois Terminal: A Traction Time Machine

Picture of LarryEver wonder how rural Illinoisans traveled and shipped products when a single narrow bumpy strip of concrete with crushed rock alongside was considered a state-of-the-art highway? This documentary will tell you how. Illinois Terminal: A Traction Time Machine is a window to a long gone way of travel when the country was more rural and driving a car, if you had one, was not the convenient way to go.

Read-Watch-Listen: Three Takes on Back to School

Are you feeling a bit left out of the back-to-school excitement? We may not be able to deliver a bouquet of sharpened pencils to your door, but we can suggest a few ways to relive memorable classroom experiences. Try one of these or contact us for a personalized suggestion.

Up the Down Staircase book cover
Lean on Me DVD cover
School of Rock soundtrack cover

Read:  Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman

Composed as a series of letters, memos, vignettes, classroom papers, and lesson plans, Up the Down Staircase is the funny and touching story of a committed, idealistic teacher whose clash with school bureaucracy is a timeless and inspiring lesson for anyone concerned about public education.

Watch:  Lean On Me

Based on the larger-than-life true story of Principal Joe Clark, Lean on Me dramatizes the tough love administrator hired to clean up a NYC school that boasts both the worst reputation and the lowest test scores.  His methods are extreme, but no one can deny the results, and Morgan Freeman delivers one of the definitive performances of his career.

Listen:  School of Rock: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture

Most students pursue their education in rock and roll as an extracurricular activity, but one movie showed how an unconventional substitute teacher and a willing group of students can electrify both classroom and stage. Conduct your own independent study with the curriculum featured on School of Rock: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture.

New Books: Would-be Heroes, Psychological Thrillers, and More!

picture of new releasesAlmost everyday new books arrive at the Library to be processed and then placed on the shelf or in your hands. Take a look at some of the books that have arrived most recently at the Library. Want help getting matched with a book to fit your reading mood? Ask online or at the Fiction/AV/Teen services desk on the second floor.

Cover of Fortune SmilesFortune Smiles
by Adam Johnson
Johnson delves deep into love and loss, natural disasters, the influence of technology, and how the political shapes the personal.

Cover of EileenEileen
by Ottessa Moshfegh
While caring for her alcoholic father and working in a 1960s boys’ prison, a disturbed young woman is manipulated into committing a psychologically charged crime

Cover of Did You Ever Have a FamilyDid You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg
On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s life is completely devastated when a shocking disaster takes the lives of her entire family.












Cover of Night of the CobraNight of the Cobra
by Jack Coughlin
To find the truth and accomplish his mission, Swanson must return to the one place he had hoped he’d never see again where the Cobra lies in wait.

Cover of Secondhand SoulsSecondhand Souls
by Christopher Moore
Death merchant Charlie Asher waits for a new body while a motley crew of would-be heroes tackles a thief who is stealing the souls of the dead in San Francisco.

Cover of The Hundred Year FloodThe Hundred Year Flood
by Matthew Salesses
Against the backdrop of a flood that comes only once a century, a young American grapples with starting life over on foreign soil– and the challenges it creates.












Cover of Water from my HeartWater From My Heart
by Charles Martin
When Charlie’s choices produce devastating consequences, he sets out to right wrongs, traveling to Central America where he will meet those who have paid for his actions/

Cover of Best BoyBest Boy
by Eli Gottlieb
A middle-aged autistic resident rebels against changes in his environment by attempting to return to a family home and younger sibling he only partially remembers.

Cover of The DrafterThe Drafter
by Kim Harrison
A talented and brilliant special task agent at the top of her game keeps a futuristic Detroit safe in the first installment of a new suspense trilogy.












Cover of Let Me Explain YouLet Me Explain You
by Annie Liontas
Sending a scathing email to his family members after becoming convinced he will die within days, a proud Greek immigrant garners laughter and scorn from his recipients, who are dismayed when he promptly disappears.

Cover of The Gates of EvangelineThe Gates of Evangeline
by Hester Young
After a little boy in a boat appears in Charlie’s dreams asking for her help, Charlie finds herself entangled in a thirty-year-old missing-child case that has never ceased to haunt Louisiana’s prestigious Deveau family.

Cover of The Sparrow SistersThe Sparrow Sisters
by Ellen Herrick
When her herbs and tinctures are believed to be implicated in a local tragedy, healer Patience Sparrow must find a way to turn the tide and return life to this seaside New England hamlet with the help of the town’s women.

Music: The Firewatcher’s Daughter by Brandi Carlile

Cover of Brandi Carlile - The Riverwatcher's DaughterIn her 5th album, The Firewatcher’s Daughter, Brandi Carlile explores finding your home, love that lasts, and growing up. The songs tend to be predominantly folksy with some pop and rock splashed in, lending itself to be a great soundtrack for a lazy day: soothing, yet with enough up-tempo tracks to keep you alert.

Fun fact: All of the songs were recorded in single takes by Carlile and her long-term band mates Phil and Tim Hanseroth.

Staff Pick: Letters to Zell by Camille Griep

Picture of MArtaIn Camille Griep’s Letters to Zell, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella write to Rapunzel, who has left them to start a new life.   Female friendship and the search for a unique identity are explored through their distinctly imagined voices. Alternately funny and sad, each woman heroically takes on the complexities of life.

Now Available on Hoopla: Hot Titles from Image and DC Comics

hoopla image comics

Whether a die-hard comics fan or someone who is just curious what the fuss is all about, you have access to entire worlds of digital comics through Hoopla – and those worlds just multiplied! This week Image Comics publications (The Walking Dead, Saga, Chew) were added to the lineup, and you can read them on your phone, tablet, or home computer with no waiting required. Praised by critics and prized by readers, these titles join the growing stable of series partnering with Hoopla, including the only-weeks-old addition of DC Comics such as Batman, Watchmen, and Wonder Woman series. Not a superhero fan? You’ll find lots of variety; Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, Bill Willingham’s Fables, Doctor Who, and the much-in-demand Lumberjanes might be your personal gateway to the excitement of what happens when art meets story.

Hoopla is a library service which provides free access to books, music, videos, audiobooks, and comics. Check out as many as five titles each month with your MPPL library card, and titles will disappear at the end of the lending period.

Walking Dead coverKilling Joke coverLumberjanes cover